I tested the waters of mirror antiquing a while back on my IG stories. The final product turned out great, but the process was a little difficult because the backside of the mirror did not want to come off. I wanted to do something that looked more like authentic antiquing, instead of just spraying a mirror affect to give me the look.
Today, I antiqued two smaller mirrors for my second time around. I love how they turned out and I wanted to share the process with you!
4. Spray bottle
6. Paper towels for clean up
7. Lint free cloth for clean up and using under scraper if needed
8. Foam Brush
Place the mirror backside up on cardboard, or on some other type of protectant for your floor. Remove the backing so that the mirror will come out of the frame.
Add Citristrip to the backside of the mirror (I used a foam brush), cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for a couple hours. The plastic wrap helps the strip not to dry out too fast. Some mirrors take longer than others to strip. After the strip is added, it will be easier to see how long it’s going to take after checking in on it a few times during the process. I had to leave the larger mirror overnight to get off parts that were more stubborn. Someone had added a bunch of construction glue adhesive to the back of the larger one, making it tougher to remove.
After the mirror has had the strip on it for an hour or two, test a corner with a scraper to see if it will start to come off. If it comes off easily, it is ready to remove. Make sure not to scrape too deep or it will take off all of the reflective part that you want to keep on the mirror, or it might leave scratches on your mirror. Use a scraper that is not too sharp to keep from scratching up the mirror and leaving unwanted marks. I placed a cloth under my metal scraper to try to keep it from scratching the mirror as much as I could.
After all of the painted backing it scraped off, clean with remaining strip off with mineral spirits, then finish by wiping it off with a damp lint free cloth. I also used glass cleaner when it was all cleaned off to make sure that there were no smudges on the backside of the mirror before painting it. There were a couple places where the reflective finish had been torn off from the glue that someone had added to the backing of the mirror.
The larger mirror was more difficult to remove the backing. You can see the grey spots on the mirror here that I could not remove. I left the Citristrip on overnight and it still didn’t take off all of the grey backing. I decided to leave it on, after multiple continued attempts to remove it with no luck.
Now for the fun part! Spray bleach in the places where you want the reflective part to “disappear” so that part will look antiqued at the end when paint is added. It’s best to start slow with the spray bottle, as the bleach works quickly and you can always use more bleach, but can’t add back what it’s eaten away. It takes 5-10 minutes for the bleach to eat off the reflective part. I use more bleach on the edges as to give a more natural look of age.
After the bleach has removed the reflective parts that you desire to be removed, wipe off the mirror with a damp cloth and then dry it. Make sure where are no drips of bleach left on the mirror or you will end up with streaks from the bleach dripping down the mirror when you hold it up. Hold the mirror up in lighting where you can see the front side of the mirror. If it has the effect you are going for, then it’s time to paint. If not, more bleach can be added.
Lie the mirror back down with the backside up and use your paint to paint over the whole backside of the mirror. I used an antique gold spray paint, because this is the color that I wanted to show through on the front. Any color can be used. I’ve even seen some antiqued mirrors from Anthropologie with turquoise showing through. I used spray paint, but any paint can be used, as long as it will stick to a mirror surface.
I forgot to take photos of this process. Mom brain! The first coat of paint will be what shows through on the other side. Using two colors would even look really great! After I sprayed the entire back of the mirror with my antique gold spray paint, I let it dry. Then after it dried, I sprayed the entire back with black matte spray paint. I made sure that I painted outside, instead of inside the garage, due to the fumes of the spray paint.
I love how they turned out! I wish that some of the spaces of the larger mirror had not torn of in the center part, but I still think it looks great! If you have ever seen an truly antiqued mirror, you will know that they are all different. Some do have large spots on them from different things aging them.
I had a different frame that I liked better for the larger mirror so I painted and antiqued it. I couldn’t believe that it was the exact size that I needed for the mirror that I had! I love large ornate frames!
One thing that I have learned is that the older mirrors have a backing on them that is easier to take off. I’m sure over time, mirror makers have began using a more durable backing so that it won’t come off as easy. Good for them… bad for people like me that are trying to antique a new mirror.
I love how each mirror that I have antiqued is unique. The spraying of the bleach is a creative process and I love seeing how each one turns out!
I loved the back side of the smaller mirror so much that I didn’t even add the technique to the backside of that one. I just used it “as is” after I used the bleach to remove some of the reflective part. I love how the old beaten up wood looks on the back side of the smaller mirror. The mirror backside came off so easy that it didn’t have marks on it like the larger mirror. It was easier to just keep the back side of the mirror.
I would love to hear what you think of my antiqued mirrors, in the comments below, and if this has inspired you to make an antiqued mirror of your own. I love to create! Bring on the projects!
*Affiliate links are used in this post.